(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "RyersonJohnson-Murray-Part1"

52 

PULPCON 19-GUEST OF HONOR INTERVIEW, RYERSON JOHNSON 

conducted by 
VVi[! Murray 



UELL ><(rRRAV: kJe're hert to talk yiih Ryer^on 
Jt>hn«an uKo Ib one of the ariglnEl puLp urfierE. 
Johnny's career ejirEnds to thia very dav'-he's 
JLTSt finislied a western novri end is ^tiLI beinc] 
published in niagailne^ and newspapers nt the ripe 
of oLd age of^ do you want tn ^ay It? Hayb? kje'H 
pass on tJial. Let's juEt ^ay that Johnny 5bw 
Haley's comci both times this century, [lauflhfer] 
He uas born bs<:l: b way^, r gue^s I have knoirn 
you about 15 y&ars nay. 

RYEflBON JOHNSON: 1 guess so, UiU, 

MURRAY: When I uas in coLLege I was b hfg 
fan of Ddc Savage^ as I stiSL am, and In Hon 
GDEElart'9 book Cheap Thrills there uas a refer- 
ence to Ryor^on Jphnson-- JoJrnny as he's popularly 
tnoMn aniang ir\ ends and acquaintances' 'that he'd 
ghosted savernL l>OC Savage novetE for LeBter 
Dent. L'll mate this a quick Btary as we want to 
hear fro4Ti Johnny^ but L was alMnys intrigued as 
lo who this RyerEon Johnson J'd never heard of 
Has, if he was stiLL around and if there uas a 
uay to seek hipi out. i did a lot of research 
Into oLd writer's tFiaga?ine^ and | came acrnsa a 
reference in en old column by Mort Ueisinjer, uho 
uas an editor at Leo HarguLlet' Standard Publica- 
tlons^ in which 3ie Fnentioned in passing having 
thrown n ChriEtmas party in which Ryer^on Johnson 
was in flifendance, Qy coincidence I liad inler- 
viewed Mart, I gue^^ in the hummer of 1975, and 
WB stayed in touch and ] wrote him. T saidj "Do 
you 9tiL( happen to be in touch forty years later 
with Ryerson Johnson?" He wrote pie back very 
promptly and said, "Oh< Johnny's one of my favor- 
ite people, sure, hero are three addresses. He'« 
either in Hawaii, Illinois or Maine depending on 
what he^s doing this month or what day of the 
week it is." And I wrote you and I gat a long 
letter hact and you didn't know about pulp fandDn 
then. 

JCJHNSQtf: tfoDOoaoDOOOO. 

KlifTRAT: Take the story from there. 

Jl^KriSON: I flot this letter from some guy I'd 
never heard of before and he tells me all about 
this pulp situation, Pulpcon^ which ] had never 
heard of. J thought that the puLp« died out when 
tv came in and all the mega^ines went broke. And 
now they're rejuvenated and | did not know this 
at hH. I went to the first pulp convention in 
S1^ LQuis and I've been coming to rhem ever 
since, *ou guys and girls have got a thing here 
M ke I never saw befarei Ydu brins a whale era 
baclt. I thought there were nc more pulps--] see 
there are. 

MURPAf: One of The amazing Ihings Johnny has 
always told me is he wrote for some of rhe be$t 
pulps, the high olasa pulps^ Adventure , flrgoay . 
Short Stori be . [ don'T think you made Blue Book - 

JOMMSON: I didn't make fliue Book . 

HURRAI: Didn'r make Slug Book , Tqu wrole 
for the best of the pulps of that day. Including 
Western Story , which was pretty high class and 
Wl Id tfesc tfeek ly and arhers, but the thing that 
we most remember Johnny for 1^ the thing that Rar\ 
Goulart had mentioned in his book. Which is that 
you had ghosted three Doc Savage novels. Uhich 
your name wasn't on. In fact^ Lester Dent the 
main Writer^ didn't have his name on it. It was 
all ahosl of the ghost; stuff- It astonished you 
that Ihe thing we all cared about was the stuff 
that you considered the least important to your 
career. 

jdhVSOM: You ghost something that'Q not your 



own and that's not vtry important to you. Yau do 
it for whatever money is coming in, Tdu do it 
when you're brake pr far a friend. So, it aston- 
ished me when Uill said that he checked through a 
bunch af my western stories and figured out the 
style that 1 used in those stories and he applied 
that to about 1£U Doc Savage novels and figured ] 
had written thig and this and this and he waa 
right in every case. 

MliRRAV: Uell, no, no, one of them you had to 
tell me aboutr "The Motion Menace." Qne of fhem 
L couldn't figure out. 

JOHNSON: That's right, one of them you 
couldn't figure out. 

MURRAY: In fact, I gat it wrong three times. 
At different times I thought it was this one. 
Then I thought It was this anB^ then I thought it 
waE that one. 

JOHtfSOHj Veah. 

HURRAY: Yau had to Tell ne which one it tfaa. 
So, I am not aE good as you give me credit for. 

JOHNSON: Oh yes you are. LUughterl One of 
them te^ Deni changed bo much that It uas really 
his story so much more than mine. ^'The Land of 
Always-Night" wap: the first one. What Was that 
Last one? 

HURRAY! "The Motion Menace." 
JOHNSON: I've written SD much of this stuff 
for sa long you folks know more about what i have 
written than ] know, [laughter] People come up 
to me sometimes and ask^ "Uhat did you mean when 
yoLi said such and so" and J don't even remember 
writing a story. [laughter] 

HURRA'T: Didn't you tell me once yau could 
read your aid stories end you have no contact 
wi th them at all. 

JOHNSON: You have no feeling of identifica- 
tion really. They were so apart from personal 
experience. J sat in New Tork City and wrote 
western stories. 1 knew no more abaUt the west 
Than I got oiri of a couple books and so I read 
those stories nau and 1 cauEdn'i do rhero nou be- 
cause J had details from books that I put in the 
sTorieE, blendi-d it all in SO it SDunded natural. 
I guess it sounded natural^ they ssld^ and I read 
them nov withaut any feeling and I don't know 
what's going to happen. My name la up there, I 
must have written the story, but that's the only 
reason I know. 

MURHAY; rty famous Story about yDU--which I 
guess I can TeU better than you, because you 
didn't know anything about lhis--we discovered 
this only a coupLe of years ago- Johnny has al- 
ways said his first sale was To Adventure . That'a 
about aa high as you could go other than T gue^s 
Biue Book in the pulps without being a slick 
writer. His first two sales were to Adventure ^ 
Right in the late l?f<ls. 

JOHNSON: First three sales. 
HURRAY: That'a pretty good, you know^ for a 
writer just starting out to immediately crack 
fldyenTure - What he didn't know is he'd been pub- 
lished before that. He didn't know that until 
two years ago. The story goes like This, [ Was 
laoklnQ Through Mike Cook's and 5teve Miller's 
indei to the mystery and detective pulps, Wystep" 
y. Detective, and Espionage Fiction . A lot of you 
have that book^ it's a massive reference wnrk. 
And in scanning the names, 1 found the name Jfyer- 
snn Johnson. w, ftyerson Johnson in Detect ive 
Tales . February 192J, and the story was "Nimble 
Fingers." Johnny was in Soston where I live, I 



53 



gUB^g about tho springs ago, and I allied him out 

D-T Ehf blue, "Did you ever write e deiedlivt 
story In The early ipaOs?" He said "Ho. no, ] 
didn't sterr uniTl early 1926," right? 

J0H«5D«j Te£. 

MURRAY: [n fldventure . [ said, "rou tnou 
there's a Pyerson Johnson story ll^Ted In thl5 
indcK." He asid^ "WhaT wa^ the title?" [ cauldn'r 
remember the title ax that pnini and I couldn't 
rememtier the name of the magsil ne. . .and you leLI 
The story. Uhat did you tEmerpiher? 

jOHNSDNi UeLL^ : Simply Hrote b short piece 
and sent it in to a raagaiine and rhflt*& the lasi 
[ heard of it. And ihen^ some x years Later yill 
says, "It's prlnred." [laughter] 

hUPPAT: Some ■ years, 19?1 to IPSB. He 
didn't knoM ihE story had been publishBd, He 
never uas paid for ft. He nlMDys thought he 
started olf in Adventure . Jn a ^ense, I des' 
iroyed tlie beat anecdote of his career, srarring 
In Adventiire . It uas Like a one page alory. I've 
never seen It. You've never seen it to this day. 
You've ne^er seen Ihe printed magezine. His first 
story had Seen published in 1923 and he didn't 
know It until 1938. There's b writer for you. 

JOHtfSaWi The real story starts wirh Adyen- 
tur.g . I tia^ going to be an engineer and a doctor 



and all kinds of things in the university. And 
my senior year I look a short staty course and I 
got my first A. Before that I almost flunked 
every rhetoric courso 1 ever too*: because they 
graded you on punctuation, Spa I ling, stuff like 
that. lUughler] Mov on conlenl I ger m first 
A end | sell the story before I gut through the 
course and so \ gaz stutk on that and never did 
do anything that T learned at tho university; 
just the stories from then on. It uasn' t all 
easy after those first three I sold to fldvent^jpg . 
] bDuflht every book I could find thar told hoi* to 
write B story and I crammed myself with so much 
stuff I gue55 ihat T couldn't sell anything else 
tor IWQ pr three years. [Laughter] But, after 
That I got going. I a^'^ ff 3 freight train after 
] graduated the University of [llinols and with 
iL^enty dollar^ I >jenr to Mew York becauae that's 
where the yriters and editors are. And spent my 
first night in the bowery. Samatady reached 
through the chicken wire on tap of these little 
cubicles where you sleep and stole my pants. 
[laughter] The Sslvation Army flave me a new pair. 
Fortunately, l put the twenty dollars under a 
pillow so I didn't Idbe thai. Apparently this 
happens quite often- The Salvation Army gave me 
fiome pants and I'm on my way. 

HURHA'r; Of course, twenty dollars was a lot 
mare then that it is now. That would have been a 
major Loss. I mean, it sounds silly to go to Hew 
Yorji with only-- 

JDHMSON: --you could live for a Hetk at Tjnvs 
Square for three dollars and a half. 

HURRAlz Yeah. When you started you were a 
specialist. You were special iiing in certain 
kinds of stories. 

JOHNSOFl: Well, yeah. I met a guy William 
Byron Howery. Sane of you may have heard of him. 
And he told me IHL nevar make n living writing 
short stariea about freight trains and coal mines 
because people aren't that interested In them. So 
he says pick a field. So I picked Canadian mount- 
ed police, wrote a whole bunch of stories about 
the Canadian Haunlles. I got a book called The 
Great Plains £f Canada or Great; gB.re Lands of 
Canada . And out of thar i got enough stuff to 
write these stories. Ok. The industrial revolu' 
tSon came along and people ^tapped reading mount- 
ed police stories- And so I switched ta western 
Stories. There's two books --Webb's TI|e Great 
Plains and Rollins' The Cowboy . From those two 
books I got enough stuff to Learn how to write 
western scorles. And [ read a few western puLp 
magazines loo. WroTe hundreds and hundrads of 
westerns, sitting in Mew Tork. "Hudson Piver 
Cowboy" they called It. daughter] There were 
two kindE of western writers. There was the real 
dyed-in-the-WDoL westerners who Lived in the 
west, who loved ihe west, who knew the west and 
they would write meticulously about It. And then 
there wa5,,,weLl we guys in Mew Tork who read a 
book and wrote about The west that way, Well^ [ 
must have sold a hundred western stories 1 guess 
and I got the idea I should maybe go west and see 
if it's like I've been saying it was. [laughterl 
The biggest mistake 1 ever made in my life — it 
Uas not. 7ane Grey'fi purple sage was just blis- 
tering desert with cactus and grasshappers^ and 
cDUba/s were not the romantic^ noble figures that 
we hsd said they were. As far as I can see, just 
a couple of farmers with the bibs cut off the top 
of their overallfi who rode a horse and knew Lota 
of cows- [laughter] Uhen I got back to Mew Tork 
it was a Little harder la write western etaries 
knowing the reality of It all, but 3 continued. 

HUfiRAT; Did yau like writing westerns? 



54 



JDHh504: Hot particularly. 1: r\ever reaily 
interested me rnucfi. I'd Jus! sell theni, Ihere 
iiis a big marScFt, there nust have been rwenry or 
So HESlern pulps going along thEn. In the old 
pulp dav^ ic "^^ kon^Jerful in ant uay, in that 
ihere uere sa many outlets that yau ODuLd uritp a 
tlnry and if it they didn't buy if fiore on tKia 
Bide at the strtalj you take if across Ehe ttrptt 
end sell ft iKere, You usually said it here 
though once you got going, fau got time and place 
tfeedom MltTi freeUnce writing, which was very 
important. tJprk fpr yaurselfj work: where you want 
to. Mobody bossing you and you don't teU anybody 
uhBt fa de. 

Rattler Prowler 

A Stary of Frtfght-Car Sdk Thkvsts 

ti^ W RYtKSON JOHMSON 




HUHPAY: I remember you telling ne once re- 
centLy--t*hich rsaLly surprised me gi'uen the fact 
you started off writing coal mine stories and 
f relsht Ir^ln slarles and went into northwest 
gtorlea and vesfern stories and evpniually defec- 
tive stDries"that when you slanted to become a 
writer^ your interest was to write science fic- 
tion. 

JOHhSDH; Yeah. 
NURRAr: I didn't know thst. 
JOHNSON: And ihe/ tuld me et that time that 
science ficfion was not very imporfanl. Ihere 
were not nnough people interested in science fic- 
tion. AciuellVp Gern$bacfc'5 rnaa^iine was about 
ihe only one of any consetiuence and If was only 
of consequence to the enrent of about a quarter 
of a cent a uord sometimes. Sq, I didn't write 
very much science flctiand 

KURRAT; ]n fact, mosf of the scTenqe fiction 
you urotB was Doc Sovage. Vou know, [?oc was es' 
senfialLy science fiction. Tell u? about Lester 
Dent and writing C^oc Savage. 

JOHNSON: I met Lester Dent in the American 
Fiction l^uiEd. Thny^d have a luncheon meeting 
every week in Rosoff's restaurant in Times Square 
and Le^ had written Dao Savages for ^atne years 
and he was getting a little bit tired of it. He 
wanted to move Into slick paper stuff he said- 
So, he be^an to question me on the Idea of doing 
one^ ghosting one for him. And we uere good 
friends and I was a UttLe broke at the time ( 
guess too. ?o, 1 wrote it. And^ [ wrote three. 



But ghosting isn't that important a thing to 
^pend mo^t of your life doing ond so ] went back 
to writing my own stuff. 

JIURRAY: yell, in the course of tossing those 
Ddc'^ "^^p you did one booh that Ib con^idEred 
one of the classic Doc Savages, "Land of Always- 
Nlalit," for those of yau who haven't read the 
slorVj it's B lost race stary-one of the things 
thst Thsy did very well in Coc Savage. Ihe vil- 
lain was this white-skinned, black-cloaked gu/ 
called QdI Mha controlled the butterfly death-- 
hia hand would fliitler like a butterfly In front 
of your face and you would drop dead. [Loughter) 
Qq you remember what the Ifick was to the butter' 
fly death? 

JOHNSON: i don't remember. [laughter] 
HUlfRAT; [ don't remember either. fCaughterl 
I havener read the story in about 13 years. E was 
hoping you would remember, 

JDHhSON: 1 haven't read it since I wrote it, 
I never did Eee the magazine even. 

MURRAY: Tou didn't? No kidding. Ihat uaa 
the one where they went up to The Worth Pole to 
the Land of the giant mushrooms. 
JOHH&ON: J remember that, 

MulTRAY: And everybody was white- skinned and 
was killing people with the butterfly death and 
Doc had to save the princess and do all that 
stuff. 

J0iiN5[]r^i ActuaLJy, | did a Little trick 
there. I thought, "GeCj I'm writing this thing 
and I ought to do something so 1n the future PIL 
be able to prove the fact that J had done this" 
and so E Dskcd Lester would it be alright. Ue 
hed an underground governmenlal body in the North 
Pole called the Monrevid. Nonrevid is Divernon 
spelled backwards which is my hometown. So that 
identifies me with that particuLar story. 1 
checked it with les and he grinned ar>d said, "OK, 
sure, why not." 

MURRAY: Another thing that 1 thought was 
interesting is that uheri you uere at college your 
nickname wos Doc. 

JQHNSON: well, they called us all Doc. My 
father was a doctor in a small coaL mining town 
and my sisters and I - -everybody- -they called us 
doc . ElBughter] 

riUQRAl': Tour sisters? 

JQKMSON,- They called them doc too. Tlaugh- 
ter] 

MURRAY; ll'a funny, because your full name 
is Waller Hyerson Johnson, known as Johnny, and 
one cf Doc Savage's asslstarits is Villiam Harper 
Littlejohn who was also known as Johnny. 
JOKNSOU: Oh, yeah, yeah, 

HUPRAT: So you wera sort of sinilar to one 
of the characters . 

JDHNSON! I was impressed with H. Bedford- 
Jones and S. Omar Darker and I thought, "Gee we 
both Sot sort of common last names and tricky 
mirfdLo names and bo an initial in front there 
might halp,*' So for a while 1 did that but then 
[ sort of discarded it feeling a little bit re- 
dundant . 

MURRAY: Getting back to the science fiction 
thing. One of your storleE, "The Hation Menace/' 
was very unusual for 1937 or 15JB; it involved 
torce f ields. 

JQHNSOhT Yeah, yeah. 

MUI^RAY: How did you come up with the Idea 
for force f ields? 

JOHN^DN; I don'l remember that either, k;ill. 
[laughrer] 

MURRAY: We're not going to Learn much to- 
night, are we? (laughter] 

jDHMSOPi: IDU write these things, then yau 



55 



urile another one, ihen forget about it. Ue 
diiln'r sse ^igniMcarict in t^o^e ^loriEs the yay 
£DtFi9Cim?s pecpLf da noH. 

HURBAV: Byl In the seu^e at getilrtg the def- 
ence fiction YD*" I'sd iri you our of your system. 
It mu^t hdvf been fun to du. 

JOHtfSON: [ Like science flctldn, ! read 1t 
and I enjoyed i^rlting it, 

MUQI^AY: DLd you ever subtni C Co Qtrn&back or 
sny of those guys or Street fi Smith? 

JDH»JSDU: Nd, biiF £irice then [ havp vrlrten 
some Btience fiction Ihat ]'ve subrr.iHed ro ^^ 
tound^ng and b fe- places like rhaT but 1 haven't 
Eold very much of it. 

hURBAY. Yeah. 

JOHNSON: [ also did some Hike 5hayne on one 
□cua^lnn, I kneti D^ve Dreeher, who l^dj b very 
good friend of rnine, ulio umte ai Brett HaLLiday. 
] ghosted aotne Hike Ehayne uhan he got a HttLa 
bit lired of wrfting Wike Shaynp. Saoner or Later 
the Buya thet bed iheae repetiEive beroGs do get 
tired of tJiem and begin to hire ghosts, 

HUBRAr: I iinDu what you pnean. LlaughTer] 

JOHNSON: There was a series about the 5alnt, 
remeinber Jiim? VeLL for a wbi Le Leslie Charteri^ 
went to France and the thing wa? up for grabs In 
NeL4 York dnd everybody that 1 kni>u hsO a shot at 
writing the Saint. I don't know, must have been 
a dojen different people wrote that (hing. It 
M^E curious because liiey didn't ride very close 
herd over it end Bcmebody with a Little lefc-wing 
view would put a little cDrrmunisr ^ruft In it and 
the nsKl tine would be a littte of the fascial 
side, oonfusiFiq peapEe wh& read It. [laughterj 

HUtfRAl; You bIsd did one other hero charac- 
ter we all kno«( the Phantam DefeCTi ^e, 

JOHNSON: That's right, the Pbafilon Detec 

tiVB. 

hURRAY: TeLl Us abouT It. You did one Phan- 
tom, "The Silent Peath." 

JGHNSQNi Ohj yes ] did that. T 3iad a guy- 
in those ^tcries you bad Co have an escape scheme 
and B mysterious death. I had thia guy cheying b 
cigsr and when he chempEd dawn on the cigar a 
salt pellet WDuLd eject from the cigar and hit 
Eomebody he didn't like right in Che temple. The 
salt dl^&oEued and there wea no sign of what had 
killed the victim. It was vefj mysterious end he 
was a very accurate shot to shoot all these peo- 
ple, [Laughlerl You hod to have three or fogr 
of those things in the course of the sccry. 

HURRAf: How would you explain thf recoil not 
breaking hl5 teeth? Ilaugbter] 

J0HN60W: I neyer thought about that. [Laugh- 
tar] 

HURRflt: You never thought about That. 

JOHNSOhr fipperenfly nobody else did either, 
because 1 didn't get any reaction from it. I did 
get a reaction once. I had a guy whose life Wa$ 
saved because the villain shoT at him and the 
recoil on the gun lifted up like this [demon- 
stratpsj until the bullet went and missed him and 
knocked hi^ hat off. Ihe bullet put a hple 
through his hflt—this was the hero. Later on I 
uas reminded that by the time the gun lift^ up 
the bullet ha5 already Lefi: and it's not going to 
make a difference. Tdu make same mistakes some- 
times and someiimpE they were picked up and same- 
times rhey weren't, far instance, I had a mnunfed 
policeman, he tripped In hi& anowshoos in a tan- 
gle of aalFionberry brush and (ell. That was for- 
tunate taoj because this is the time the villain 
was shooting at him and sa the villain missed 
him. I later found out that aalmonberry is a 
little plont that grows up about this high and 
diet in the winter time. [laughter! Nobody 



caught that. 

MURRAY: we talked to you earlier about the 
westerns you did and you got pretty tired of them 
after awhi le, SO you Gtarted lo have fun with 
them, 

JOHNSON: feah. 

MUHBAY: Tel I us about some af the funny 

westerns you did. How you got-- 

JOriNBQN: --I Started to get the idea that... 
I got tired of these Stalwart guys riding around 
Ahooting outlaws and running cattle. I get 
weird--Gtuff like having a hero who owns a mush- 
room spread and riding your horse on a freight 
train and getting knocked off by tunnels and 
lassoing caribou in Canada. I had an awful TinvE 
selling those stories at first. riaughrer] You 
Inject humor Into youT sforles aC your peril be- 
cause tJie cowboys are real earne^r characters. 
Same Way with a love Interest in western stories 
"they didn't Like too much love or sentlmeni. | 
remember ] goT a letter once from Dorothy Hub- 
bard, editor of Street t Smith's WE.5.ter.n grpry . 
She said--l remember the Llne-'"Just because your 
friend Lloyd Reeve puts girls In his stories 
don't think yau have to." There were, howeverj 
very successful western romance pulpsj I wrote a 
bunch of those too, where the gat was the most 
important part of it. 



HURRAr: kihen you lool: back on your pulp 
carear, never mind your post-pulp career, what 
did you enjcy most about the puLp world, either 
writing or doing what? 

jnH>JEDNi Well J it was the time and place 
freedom that you got by being that way. You could 
make a living really tram about three days a week 
work if you wanted to and then ]ust goof off with 
creative puttering or whatever else yau felt like 
doing the rest of the days- T never wurked B& 
hard as some of them. Some of them wrote siA or 
seven days a week. I didn't, i got some money 
ahead and I didn't seam compelled to Work as 
much. [ got brote and worked. 

HURRAY; Did you hflve it tough through the 
depression? or did you-- 

JOHHSONr --No, no. 

HURRAY! tou did Well during the deprossion- 

JOHNSON: The pulp people did pretty Well 
during the depression, Will. Tou could make a 
living on thirty doUBrB a Week and you could 



56 



easily get that. Aa a msiter ot fact^ [li« Editors 
ot your sinrias Here only getting belneen l£5 and 
l4l] a wetk and you coutd msto morf- ih^n ThtB Edl^ 
lora . 

MuBPAr: UeU thst'a itill Ctue; ths writer 
generally mat^s more than the editor. 

JDHNSOU: If you vork hard enough at it. 

HURFtAr: I think at Ihia paint H? cauLd opfin 
the floor to questions it people have questions. 

LINK HIJLIAI': ] ]cj^t have one quBEtlon, lJi|| 
riEnlioned at the beginning that you had i^ritten a 
ue^tern noveL currently. DQuld yau telL ua any 
inforrnBtion abouc it? Do you have b pubLiaher? 
r« this going to be out soon' 

JOHNSON: Uel L, I'm Just putting finishes to 
It nou. It hasn't been aoLd, 

HULLAFt: I uas ju^t curicus. 

JDHNSDN: Actually^ a friend died and hl& wife 
sent me about e quarler of the story, a quarter 
of a novels and then asked me if I vanied to fin- 
ish It- He had na roughs dane, not a single note 
■bout what he va^ goin? to do with It. But he did 
have the beginning o' the story and using that 
begin'>in9 I kind af figured out uh^t could lo?ic- 
alLy have happened and urote It on that basis. I 
sent out though and it didn't go and [ finalLy 
figured out the rea^an uas that ] kept his tnaXer- 
ifll, that firal quarter of th* story, and tried 
to fuse tnine inta It and kt wesn't quite succebs- 
ful- ^0, I finally just redid the whoLe thing. 
Hl5 part and my parr both, 90 It's fl unified 
style at Eeaat now. 

HUVRAr: Wb^ it weird fletling back InlQ ueBl- 
erns after all that time? 

JOHNSON; Mn, It WBS kind of f^n and 1 had 
that first pert of the story to go on ana I re- 
nembered enough about It ?□-- 

HURPAT: '-so, you've learned to like nest- 
erns- 

JOHNSQV: No, E still don't. [laughter] 
MURRAY: I think Julie hfld his hand up and 1 
hneu he*d uant to horn in on this, so ge ahead, 
horn in on It, Julie. 

JULIUS SCHUARTZ; Johnny, why don't you telL 
I little bit about your brief career be a script 
editor out at Papular Publ 1 cat inns and hou you 
thought you had discovered Pay Bradbury. 




A Story of the Coal Miners 

Some Battered but Safe 



JOHN&DN: Oh, yeah. That uas a gaod one 
JuLie, Alright, The westerns phased out first 
when tv came in and all the pulp maga^'ne^ went 
broke. fLut the tity^tery magazines were still being 
printed- So I thaught I've got ra learn to swltth 
from westerns to mysteries. So i lao* a jnli with 
Harry Steeger who is here today--perhaps you all 
saw him. Dne day a story came In so good I 
couldn't believe it. [ look it inia RogErE Ter- 
rill vho was the bos^ man and he said^ "Uhy sure 
it's B good story but it's not our type and It's 
got a tragic ending. Ue don't want a tragic end- 
ing in the story. If you like it «d well, if i^ou 
want to reirite It to our speci f ications^ I'll 
buy it," Ok. I rewrote the ^tory- l put a happy 
ending on the end of it and changed it enaugh to 
make it a Little bit logical but 3 rEally butth- 
ered the story in the process and Stay Bradbury 
sent in three stories which 1 rulnEd Llaughter] 
in the interest of getting it sold. And latEr, 
about ihiriy yEarE larer, about five years ago or 
so E had a letter from Ray Bradbury thanking me 
tor giving hira a start. Some of the first feu 
atcriee he ever sold. Is that the siory, Julie? 
SCHWARTZ: Teah, but there's another point. 
[ MBS Ray Bradbury's egent. 

JOHNSON: Teah, I knEU yau were his agent. 
SCHUARTZ: And [ told him he can't make a 
living ]u£t out of writing science fiction and 
weird fiction and to try his hand ar detective or 
mystery stories. He did write one. \ was going to 
bring it up to Johnny who I knew and Just before 
I dellvei'ed the script L gut a telegram from Ray 
Bradbury that saidn "Dear Julie^ please insert 
the falLawijiQ paragraph at the end of the story. 
[ forgot to include the morlvatlon for the 
crime." [laughter] And E brought this up and E 
gave It a gnod pep talk to Johnny. He never got 
that far. And E didn't mention too much that he 
had sold before and for a maHienl Johnny thought 
he had made the great discovery of Ray Bradbury. 

JOMNSOM: Right. 

HURRAY: Ualker, 

VAL);ER marten: For the Last coi^ple of yesf^ 
E have been buying art work from Johnny. Can you 
give us B little bit of an idea haw you came 
across this art nork at Popular Publ icar 1 ons? 

MURRAf: He stole it. Slaughter] 

JOHWSOH: They treated it ao casually. They'd 
pay i?^ for the inside art work and they'd use it 
ar\d then throw it away. And when | quit the job 
there was all that stuff in the waatebasket and I 
just took a bunch of it home. And same way with 
the cavers; they had a vhole warehouse full of 
cover paintings, they told me to take as man;^ af 
them as I wanted so I picked up three when I left 
and life goes on^ [laughter] 

HtrflRAT: John. 

JOHN GUNHI50H: Speaking of yaur coyers, you 
said you remembered that there was a woman srtist 
who did work for p ime Hysiery - uhat alse did she 
do? 

JOHHSON: Detective Tales . 

CUNWISDN: Oh, and Detective Tales . 

JOHNSOtf: 5hE was a very pretty girl who 
would paint herself into all kinds of horrendous 
silualians because she couldn't afford to hire a 
model just then. So^ when these covers came aut, 
there is the same girl on each cover. I don't 
know vho that was. But the situations she pjt 
herself in was hard to believe. 

HUliRAY: Jack Deveny, go ahead- 

JACK DEVcHT: Hyersan, did you read the pulps 
yourself and if yau did, did you hflve B favorite? 

JOhNSDN: Jack, to tell you the truth I didn't 
read Very many pulps before I started writing